The Wisconsin Oneidas and the Episcopal Church

A Chain Linking Two Traditions
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L. Gordon McLester III

This unique collaboration by academic historians, Oneida elders, and Episcopal clergy tells the fascinating story of how the oldest Protestant mission and house of worship in the upper Midwest took root in the Oneida community. Personal bonds that developed between the Episcopal clergy and the Wisconsin Oneidas proved more important than theology in allowing the community to accept the Christian message brought by outsiders.




Part I: Christianity Comes to Oneida Country

Editors’ Introduction

Chapter 1: The Oneida World before Christianity (Laurence M. Hauptman)

Chapter 2: Oneidas and Missionaries, 1667–1816 (Karim Tiro)

Chapter 3: Flawed Shepherd: Eleazer Williams, John Henry Hobart, and the Episcopal Mission

to the Oneidas (Michael Oberg)


Part II: The Oneida Episcopal Mission: The First Century in Wisconsin

Editors’ Introduction

Chapter 4: Another Leatherstocking Tale: Susan Fenimore Cooper, the Episcopal Church, and

the Oneidas (Laurence M. Hauptman, L. Gordon McLester III, and Judy Cornelius-Hawk)

Chapter 5: A Mission of Mutuality: The Relationship between the Oneidas and the Nashotah

House Theological Seminary (Very Rev. Steven A. Peay)

Chapter 6: Wearing Two Hats: Cornelius Hill and John Archiquette, Oneida Nation and

Episcopal Church Leaders (L. Gordon McLester III and Laurence M. Hauptman)

Chapter 7: The Episcopal Mission 1853–1909: Three Church Accounts

Ellen Saxton Goodnough: Christmas at the Oneida Episcopal Mission, 1869

Father Solomon S. Burleson describes providing medical care at Oneida

Father Frank Wesley Merrill on Missionary Sybil Carter and the Oneida

Women lace-makers, 1899


Part III: Oneida First-Person Accounts of the Episcopal Mission and Its Clergy

Editors’ Introduction

Chapter 8: Six Oneidas Recount Eight WPA Oral Histories, 1938–1942, about the Episcopal

Mission (Sarah Cornelius, Guy Elm, Lena Silas, Oscar Archiquette, Pearl House, and David


Chapter 9: Ten Contemporary Oneidas Reminisce in Nine Accounts about the Holy Apostles Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Mission

     Kenneth Hoyan House: Reverend Christian puts me on the Straight Path

     Blanche Powless: The Episcopal Mission School

     Kathy Powless Hughes: My father Deacon Edmund Powless

     Sister Theresa and Mother Superior Alicia: Oneidas in the Order of the

     Teachers of the Children of God: Two Nuns reflect on their service to the

     Episcopal Church

     Pearl Schuyler McLester: Reminiscences of the Oneida Episcopal Mission

     Deacon Deborah Heckel: Father R. Dewey Silas

     Judy Cornelius: As I remember: The women of the Church of the Holy Apostles

     Betty McLester and Judy Skenandore: Oneida lacemaking: then and now

     L. Gordon McLester III: The Oneida Indian Hymn Singers


Part IV: Conclusion

Chapter 10: Putting Oneida Episcopal History in Perspective (Christopher Vecsey)

Chapter 11: The Wisconsin Oneidas and the Episcopal Church: Then and Now


Appendix: Episcopal Priests and Bishops Who Have Served the Oneidas in Wisconsin


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